JONESBORO — The rollout of coronavirus vaccines has provided hope for Northeast Arkansans, but Craighead County District Court is offering amnesty electronically to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Since 2017, the court has blocked off a few Fridays to hold these sessions in person, tackling a different issue each year. It offered electronic amnesty for many nonviolent misdemeanor offenses last spring.
Nine pharmacies in Craighead County are authorized to administer the vaccine, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. As of Wednesday, 171,515 doses have been given, ADH reports.
“There won’t be enough vaccine available for everyone at first, but we will get additional supply each week and will work to make it available as quickly as possible,” an ADH statement read.
Local doctors are advocating for the preventative treatment, currently available to first responders, health care workers, school staff and Arkansans 70 years and older. In a Tuesday podcast, St. Bernards First Care primary care physician Dr. Lance Tuetken said the minimal side effects from the shot are better than contracting the virus.
“The vaccine’s potential side effects versus benefit are minimal. The COVID virus, this thing has evolved. What I’ve seen in (the) clinic is it expresses itself differently,” Tuetken said. “You can have a perfectly healthy person completely get devastated with the virus. … Unfortunately, there isn’t really symptoms or a pattern that you can say, ‘This is definitely COVID.’”
In a public broadcasting show, City of Jonesboro Medical Director Dr. Shane Speights detailed his experience of being vaccinated last week. He said Northeast Arkansas should “double down” by getting the shot when eligible.
“I had a little bit of fatigue, a little achiness in my joints, but I’ll tell you considering how tough this virus has been on everybody and the hospitalizations and the deaths, I’ll take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday over getting COVID,” Speights said.
He also expressed frustration toward the distribution of the vaccine.
“The vaccine is working great but we’ve got to work to get as many people vaccinated in a short amount of time as possible,” Speights said. “The problem for the pharmacies and hospitals … (is) they may not find out until the day of or right before that, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re not going to have enough vaccine.’”
Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county through Wednesday:
Clay: 85 active cases, 1,377 recoveries, 39 deaths.
Craighead: 618 active cases, 10,902 recoveries, 155 deaths.
Crittenden: 327 active cases, 4,729 recoveries, 79 deaths.
Cross: 133 active cases, 1,555 recoveries, 41 deaths.
Greene: 307 active cases, 4,813 recoveries, 61 deaths.
Jackson: 55 active cases, 2,930 recoveries, 29 deaths.
Lawrence: 89 active cases, 1,705 recoveries, 40 deaths.
Mississippi: 214 active cases, 4,650 recoveries, 103 deaths.
Poinsett: 187 active cases, 2,524 recoveries, 70 deaths.
Randolph: 89 active cases, 1,622 recoveries, 44 deaths.
Sharp: 109 active cases, 1,246 recoveries, 39 deaths.
Note: The Arkansas Department of Health advises that daily numbers are preliminary and subject to change as more information becomes available.